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Ulster chiefs seek return of fans as North's restrictions are eased

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Ulster GAA’s Stephen McGeehan hoping
for some positive news on crowds front. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster GAA’s Stephen McGeehan hoping for some positive news on crowds front. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster GAA’s Stephen McGeehan hoping for some positive news on crowds front. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ulster GAA is hoping that the Stormont Executive will give supporters the green light to return to club games.

It would be a timely boost for the Ulster Council as the Executive convenes today to discuss existing Covid-19 restrictions.

Indeed, Ulster GAA chiefs are optimistic that provision will be made for spectators to return to games with club league and championship action having resumed around the country since last weekend.

GAA officials held their own first face-to-face meeting since March yesterday - all meetings in the interim have been conducted via Zoom - and the hope was expressed that the return of spectators is imminent.

The Ulster Council's head of operations Stephen McGeehan said: "There have already been some meetings this week to shape policy going forward and we have been led to believe that the Executive may now discuss the matter of fans returning to games.

"Obviously there will be other big-ticket items on the agenda pertaining to different sports such as rugby and soccer, but our concern would be the possible return of followers to our games. We will now await the outcome of the Executive's deliberations.

"We would have liked to have heard some positive news in advance of last weekend's opening round of club games but we understand that these things take time.

"Our hope is that an announcement will follow the meeting."

Cavan football manager Mickey Graham, meanwhile, became the latest high-profile personality to take issue with the decision to restrict fans from attending club games or setting a crowd limit at 200, which he described as "a joke".

Graham's broadside follows the presentation of a draft outline of the bigger GAA grounds which shows that such venues can comfortably accommodate what would be considered normal attendances for club fixtures.

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The crowd limit of 200, which is currently applicable in the Republic has been put in place until August 10 when it is anticipated that the figure could be increased to 500.

However, the Ulster Council is hoping that that larger figure will apply in Derry, Down, Armagh, Antrim, Tyrone and Fermanagh - and, if at all possible, from this weekend.

Meanwhile, in Tyrone, brothers Hugh, Micheál and Turlough Gallagher have returned to action for the Omagh St Enda's club after the doctor siblings performed as frontline workers at the height of Covid-19 crisis.


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